Morning! And happy Easter for yesterday.
Despite it being a bank holiday, I’m (Jenny) still here to give us a fixed point to our morning in which to pause. No matter what’s going on around us, what’s in the news, what family activities we may or may not have planned, what worries are plaguing us right now, we have this opportunity to stop and fix our eyes on God, just for a short while.
Regardless of it being the Easter season, I’m going to carry on looking at the Psalms of David, as I have been for the last few weeks. Today I’m looking at Psalm 57. You might want to read it now.
In the story of David, he’s still on the run from Saul and, after escaping Gath where he had pretended to be mad, he is now hiding in the cave of Adullam (which is the cave in the photo apparently).
I’m not very good with caves. Big, beautiful show caves, with plenty of lighting and even steps and level paths are fine and I’ve been inside some stunning ones. However, many years back I went on a youth activity camp with church. One of our activities was ‘pot-holing’. With what I know now, having family who actually did pot-holing, I know that what I did was not really pot-holing. It was scrambling about in a cave that was a bit too small to be opened as a showcave, but certainly wasn’t cramped enough to be described as a ‘pot-hole’. After donning some very fetching waterproof onesies and hard hats, we had to drop, on our behinds, down a damp, slimy rock face to enter a cramped, dark and frankly, not very interesting cave. I’m quite small – and the floor of the cave was quite a long way down from the entrance. That initial slide, and the horror it induced, set the scene for the next hour or so of my life.
I felt trapped, claustrophobic and disorientated. Without the guide leading us, I wouldn’t have been able to get back to the entrance. I was wet and dirty, with no way to get away from the drips and slime around us. I was physically tired – even though we weren’t doing the tight squeezes and dragging ourselves along that actual pot-holers do. I wanted to get out, but I couldn’t. My over-riding thought was, “And people do this for fun?!”
The difference between me and David is I had gone into that cave for ‘fun’, for a defined period of time, and the whole time I was down there, I knew that safety, and light, and fresh air awaited me in the very near future. I was also down there with friends who encouraged me and helped me. I was down there with an experienced guide whose main aim was to keep us safe.
David had gone into the cave for safety. The darkness and the dampness, and the dangers of uneven ground and loose rocks were nothing to the dangers outside the cave. He’d gone there, not knowing how long it would last; how long he’d have to hide. But like me, David wasn’t alone. 1 Samuel 22: 1-2 says, “Soon his brothers and all his relatives joined him there. Then others began coming – men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented”. I imagine his brothers kept his spirits up, and reminded him of better days. I imagine it wasn’t long before the female relatives started to make the cave more homely – a few rocks here for seats around the fire, some reed lamps in those crevices to bring light. Those additional men probably brought David a sense of confidence that the cave could be defended.
Psalm 57 is quite similar to Psalm 59 that I looked at two weeks ago – in fact they were even written to be sung to the same tune! Like Psalm 59, David starts by crying out to God about the situation in which he has found himself, but again, like Psalm 59, he ends up praising God. The last verses say:
My heart is confident in you, O God:
My heart is confident.
No wonder I can sing your praises!
Wake up, my heart!
Wake up, O lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn with my song.
I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
I will sing your praises among the nations.
For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
May your glory shine over all the earth.
If you’re like me, you don’t mind singing in the shower because the acoustics of the bathroom make your voice sound like you’d like to imagine it sounds to other people. One of the caves I have visited was on the Greek island of Kefalonia. It was a cathedral-like cavern, deep in the ground, with a steep set of steps to get into it. The acoustics of the place were so good that they held regular concerts in there. Caves – a bit like bathrooms – can make ordinary sounds and music into something extraordinary.
No wonder the musician David was moved to sing, and play his harp and lyre in the cave. I bet it sounded amazing – the acoustics causing the sound to bounce off the cave walls, amplified and made rich and full, with echoes bouncing down passageways, and making his one voice sound like a whole choir. It probably fed his musical soul. I can’t imagine his family were overly impressed with him ‘waking the dawn with his song’ though!
Just because we are in a difficult place, that doesn’t mean that we can’t find beauty in it. It might not be the situation that we would choose, but we can still learn something about God and ourselves in it.
David was not only blessed by the music he could make, but he was also encouraged by God’s faithfulness. David’s main view from inside the cave would have been a small patch of light – a glimpse of the clouds scudding across the heavens. That small window on the world was enough to remind him that God’s love is as high as the heavens, and his faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Just as I had a guide, down in that cave, keeping me safe, David knew that he had the ultimate guide. God would see him through, protect him and keep him safe.
Today, let’s pray that we will find something of beauty in the currently restricted world around us – something that brings us joy, or encouragement, that makes us smile or laugh.
Let’s pray that we catch a glimpse of God today, and learn something new about him. Lets pray that we have our eyes and ears open to catch those glimpses that are all around us.
Let’s give thanks that we aren’t alone – that we have friends and family around – whether virtually or physically, and that even if they seem far away, God is always there.
And sing our praises to God, like David, for his ‘faithfulness that reaches to the clouds’.
Have a listen…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEF7IoQ3eUk
Enjoy your Bank Holiday Monday. May your ‘cave’ be filled with God’s shining glory today.